Surely It’s Me, Right?!

Watching tv. Trying to write. This has been the pattern for weeks. So much on my mind yet I can’t seem to catch my thoughts. I feel like a drifter. Its been just about 3 months since I left my full time job of 17 years. I was leaving many great working relationships behind in pursuit of a less stressful environment. The hope was in doing so I would have less depressive and manic episodes. I was averaging 2 hospitalizations a year. I guess i always forget even with “good” stress, such as a job change, the risk of an episode is high. I added to that statistic w a devastating manic episode.
On to greener pastures I am now in a part time position. A little slower pace. A smaller office. The only person I really talk to is my supervisor. I drift in and out of the office. Sit at my desk. I miss conversations w my old coworkers where I sat in a unit of 8 people, I the veteran. I the one most people came to for assistance. My cubbie mate and I on the verge of a real budding friendship-something I don’t seem to be good at. But, that world is gone. It seems out of sight out of mind.
I know. I know. Everyone is sooo busy. I don’t always reach out as often as I should. But I try. I think of other people daily and wonder how they are. I don’t just forget people. I feel confused when folks I thought were my friends don’t respond. When these same folks seemed so concerned after hearing about my possible suicide attempt (long story wrapped up in my mixed manic episode). Shared my business with others without my permission. I let go of all of that, as I thought they truly cared. Thought they were my friends..or at least more than acquaintances at this point.
Is it me that falls off the map or them? If anything, I keep in contact, albeit hiding, through texts. When they don’t get returned what am I to think? I am lonely. I feel so alone. I have very few friends. Can’t maintain the ones I *may* have. Lost some along the way.
At the same time I don’t want to beg people to be my friend. Surely it’s me, right? You know why I was unable to write this..because the truth hurts. The pain of isolation is grand. To be fair, I do have a husband. He is most certainly my friend. But, 2 people don’t make a circle. A circle of support is always shoved down my throat. If only I had one. If only I knew how to rally one.
I just drift along to and from work. Drift in and out of the grocery store. Drift from my bed to the couch. Drowning in loneliness and isolation. I think people like me. But that’s as far as it goes. I really don’t understand why it stops there. Surely it’s me, right?

Insidious Chains

What happens
when you don’t care enough
to hold your own hand?
When your very own mind
Turns on you
When the waters below
promise to cradle you
When The devil himself
promises to free you
When thoughts of the future
Only hold more pain
When in the present
You barely maintain
When secrets begin
To morph into lies
When you close the bathroom door
To put on your disguise
When you choose a shade darker
To manipulate a smile
When the laughter
Simply disappears
When 3 am comes again and again
Rendering you broken and in tears
When joy was once felt
But no longer seems to exist
When shared experiences of love
Are cast down by shame
I can tell you what happens
Hope is lost to ferocious fears
Life is not worth living
In these insidious chains

Well….that happened! A visit by the police.

Dysphoric mania landed me in the back of a police car pleading not to be 5150’d. It was a helluva day on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning I was shuffling in the halls of the psych hospital. I was full of shame and tears fell on their own accord. Here’s the story….
I’m not exactly sure when it started. Three or four nights of intense agitation that had me yelling at my husband, criticizing him for anything and everything. Then only moments later literally laying on the floor in complete despair. Moments later running around the house not able to figure out what to do w myself. I was supposed to go to Outpatient on Monday but couldn’t get out of bed.
Tuesday played out like a horrible nightmare. I got up begrudgingly around 8am. I was back in bed by 10:30am. I’m not sure if I slept or not, but emerged again at 12:30. I was feeling guilty about how unproductive I was. I remembered my husband’s request I move my clothes from one closet to another. So I launched in to this project. Somewhere in the midst of walking my clothes from one room to another, I got the brilliant idea to go to the beach. I don’t mean for an afternoon. I mean for a few days. My memory is quite fuzzy. I can only tell you what I think happened. I ran around the house filling a bag with necessities. I brought some meds, but not all. Forgot my birth control pills. Didn’t pack a jacket. Honestly I don’t know what I did remember to bring. I guess I left a window open at the house and our cat outside.
On the road within minutes of my brilliant decision. I think I was headed for Seaside, about 2.5 hours away. However, the freeway I actually landed on would not be how I normally go. I’m about 1.5 hours down the road and it dawns on me I don’t have a phone cord. I also forgot my wallet. My gas tank was getting low. I pull over in a restaurant parking lot that overlooks the bay. Moments upon exiting the car I proceed to crawl down the rocks that line the banks of San Francisco Bay. My shoes are in the water.
What I did next, I can only recall bits and pieces. I called a friend and yelled into the phone something along the lines of…I’m here at the banks of the bay. I’m sorry I’m not a better friend. Goodbye! I then hung up. I called my therapist, thanked her for trying to help me. Said Goodbye! Hung up the phone. Then called my husband. I told him it was meant to be that I am sitting on the banks of the bay. I loved him, but it was time to go. Hung up. I think I texted some people too.
What’s important here is that whenever I have a meltdown/breakdown I keep it a secret. Usually my husband is the only one who is privy to my falling apart. I will be hospitalized and not tell anyone. So, to be reaching out like this was certainly a sign something was very wrong.
Little did I know my husband had called the police. So had my friend. I had no choice but to return home as I had no money. Soon my cellphone would be dead. I raced home. I was convinced a white Chrysler 300 was following me despite the fact I was the only one changing lanes. I drove recklessly and too fast.
As I approached home, about 20 min out, I called my husband. I could tell by the way he was talking to me something was up. I just knew the police were at my house and there was going to be some kind of standoff. I accused him of conspiring against me. I refused to tell him where I was and hung up. For whatever reason I decided to pull over, maybe to figure out my next move. I don’t even think I was sitting in my car for 5 minutes when 2 police cars rolled up on me.
They asked me to get out of my car and I said I didn’t do anything wrong. They politely asked me again. As they put me in the back of the car my husband appeared. The police officer at our home drove him to get my car. I was crying hysterically and apologizing to the officer for wasting his time. They took me to the crisis clinic.
At the crisis clinic I became very agitated. I was yelling and making demands. I was insulting people. The crisis counselor said she did not feel comfortable releasing me. I told her she didn’t even know me. My husband agreed with her and said the way I was acting was not me. He was also concerned. There you have it. The 72 hour hold started.
It wasn’t until the next day, talking to my husband on the phone at the hospital did I learn of what I did. Who I called. What I said. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I reached out to all those people. I don’t reach out. I keep my bipolar disorder pretty private. I felt like I had created wreckage from my manic episode. I felt so guilty I put people in the position of needing to call the police.
When I left the house, I had no intention of hurting myself. Had I remembered my wallet I could have bought a new phone cord. I could have made it to the beach. Had I taken my IPad, my husband would not have been able to locate me. Its such a strange day when I look back on it.
I am constantly humbled by bipolar disorder. In the past, I have known myself when it’s time to seek out the hospital. On this day, I truly didn’t know. Being driven away in the back of a police car, not even sure why. It was very scary. Its still scary when I think about it.

The Many Faces of Bipolar

I lay here curled under the covers at 1pm. Motionless I stare at the curtain blocking the world out.  Sometimes I think it ripples feeling the breeze against the window.  The overnight rain has subsided but I guess there’s more to come. The dark cloud of depression has settled itself in my room.  Stretching out. Getting comfortable.  The air feels thinner now.  It’s a struggle to breath. In fact, everything is a struggle.

This thick veil of blankets used to weigh me down. But in this moment I think it’s my very existence causing undue pressure. I repeat over and over how sorry I am. Sorry for the burden I’ve become. The trouble I seem to cause. The constant worry you shoulder.  The fear of not knowing who I’m going to be when you arrive home: angry or agitated or manic or depressed. Or worse yet,cycling through them all.

My voice 12 octaves higher signaling I’m manic. Not to mention all the projects I’ve started in the last 8 hours. Honey! Honey I wrote a song today. It’s really good. You are going to like it. Racing around w paint in my hair. Look at the colors in this. I don’t know how I did it. Came out great, right?

My lifeless body on the couch. Can barely muster a hello. Can’t muster a how was your day dear. This is where I was when you left this morning.  No, I haven’t eaten. I’m just not hungry. No I didn’t shower again, I’m so tired.

The echo throughout the house of my rage shakes the pictures. Scares the cat.  Nothing you say is right. I’m not fucking hungry alright. Leave it alone. Why don’t you cook once in a while for gods sakes! I clean and I clean and look at this mess. I don’t know why I bother.

You wipe away the never ending tears fielding my questions: what happened? I was doing everything right. I mean, wasn’t I? I’m a good person, aren’t I? I don’t mean to be this way, cause so much pain.  I don’t understand. Why now? Why? I don’t think I can live like this anymore

The many faces of bipolar.

I Am the Storm

I feel so lost. So confused. Unraveling. Tears and more tears fall unanswered.  Just hours before I was sitting tall espousing on how I was going to really help turn the agency I’m going to work for around.  With my working knowledge of both systems, I was just the right person for the job. Yet, hours later I’m pacing around hysterical. Yelling at my husband..I really don’t remember about what.  Feeling so out of control.

Thoughts of suicide careen around in my mind.  Pure chaos takes over. Demands that I take a PRN to help calm down feel like daggers. I don’t know why. Its the right suggestion. Its a good idea. But I kick, yell and scream about how unfair this all is.  Poor poor me.

Our frustrations hang in the air and wrestle with our unspoken words.  Everything hurts. What you say. What you don’t say.  The darkness I can see coming for me.  The relentless noise in my head.  What am I doing wrong I shout! I’m a good person I insist! Apologies fly out of my mouth laced with fear.  Please don’t give up on me. I’m so sorry. I know you deserve better. I want to give you better but I’m all tied up.  Bipolar disorder has me in knots. Angry knots.  If only I could untangle myself.  Then. Then I could just end it all.  Now, that’s a good idea.

Finally, red faced and ashamed I slink off to bed.  The tornado of emotions has passed.   I didn’t see it coming. Seems lately I never do.  No capacity for self awareness.  I lay my head on my pillow and ask for forgiveness.  I do not wish to be a storm in our lives. I really don’t!

Right here! Right Now!

I’m really trying to be more open, honest and communicative w my husband. I start a new job in 58 days. My mind is almost constantly hurling obsessions and worries around on spin cycle. You see I have been at my current job for 17 years. 4 years ago I made the decision to switch positions within my same company..a promotion. I started in my new role on February 1st 2013. I was hospitalized April 5th after I stood on a bridge for several hours on the verge of jumping. By May, I was experiencing psychosis for the first time in my life and another round in the hospital. By June, I had a diagnosis of Bipolar I w psychotic features. To be fair, I was already being treated for major depression for several years. Delusions, hallucinations, serious suicide attempt, severe manic episode, and probably 7-8 hospitalizations later, here I am, getting ready to start a brand new job at a brand new company.
I can’t stop thinking about this tragic timeline. The safety net in that scenario was my 13 years of being a pretty damn good employee and a union. But now, I arrive w no years of service, on probation, no union. My anxiety is having a field day.
So, yesterday I unveiled my concerns. Recounted my initial descent into bipolar disorder. My husband suggested he has also been thinking about this. To which I was glad because my memory is terrible. Reaching back into history is difficult for me, especially if trying to attach it to a date. He remembered me to be drinking at this time. Did I mention I’m also an alcoholic? I didn’t think I was, but have a few relapses under my belt since my rehab stint in 2007. I honestly can’t keep it all straight. I went w his assumption alcohol was involved and therefore I was unstable and susceptible to such a breakdown. It was highly likely.
I agonized much of the night. Pushed my brain to walk back in time to 2013. I recalled going to depression in sobriety meetings. I was positive I was not imbibing at this time. I could also remember being present and able to learn things. A sign I wasn’t hungover. While this is good news, not only being able to remember something, that I was sober, but maybe it’s not. That “instability” my husband was referring to wasn’t there. Does that mean it was the stress of the new job alone was the culprit?
The wheels on this bus are going to begin to fall off if I don’t get ahold of my mind. Its a new day. Its a new year. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’m trying to be more open, honest and communicative…with myself…and others. Awareness is good. Reality checks are helpful. But, having some FAITH IN MYSELF is paramount.
I look down to see where my feet are. Right here. Right now. Not in 2013 and not 58 days from now.

Consumed by the Darkness

I feel so empty
So alone
Yet so full
Of shame
And disgrace
Down by the river
I shed silent tears
No one understands
Please help me escape
This cumbersome pain
It’s not in solace
I find comfort
It’s not even in holding your hand
Depression whispers to me
Taunts me
Haunts me
Not worthy of spirit
Or space
Not worthy of love
Or embrace
Guilty of weakness
Creating wreckage in my wake
Quietly I slip away
As I’ve had all I can take
I can no longer hold this despair
I can no longer hold this fear
The whispers entice me and promise
It’s selfless to just disappear
The burden no longer heavy
My soul no longer lost
The battle no longer need waging
My tattered white flag barely waving
Please forgive me
As it’s best I don’t say goodbye
I love you dear one
Please try not to cry
Out the back door I slip
Consumed by the darkness
I have lost my grip
Its true I’ve let go
It’s me
No will to keep on
Your fire is still bright
Mine has long grown tired
Keep warm dear one
Keep fighting the good fight

Hospital Chronicles

Home in my pajamas on a Sunday morning. Steam spiraling from my favorite coffee mug. A kitty purring on my lap. Sunshine trickling into our cozy living space. I guarantee you I could neither see nor cherish such simple things last week. My mind was so muddled. My paranoia and fear so high. I was mostly convinced the voices inside the walls were plotting against me. So full of angst and so uncomfortable I could not sit for a cup of joe or hear the sounds coming from the record player.
I had to take a time out. Sign myself into a psych facility. The voices, chanting and taunting were threatening my well being. My safety. Blood shot eyes from lack of sleep, combined with a steady stream of tears made for a picture of madness. I gingerly walked into the therapists office at my outpatient program and revealed I had a plan. I could no longer tolerate the noise, the incessant chatter, anymore. If I didn’t go to the hospital today I was prepared to follow through. Of course, please sit down, let’s talk a minute she said. The rest is a blur. I waited 12 hours before being admitted.
While there, I slept a lot! Attended some groups, did some art, some exercise. The expectations were low. Which was helpful. We haggled over a medication change. For me, just the containment helps calms the voices. Take away the possibility of hurting myself and take away their power as well. The chants. The demands have no sway because there is no option.
Today, back home, I can sit in a bit of gratitude. Its never fun to go to the hospital, but it’s sometimes necessary. That was the case for me. I couldn’t think clearly, much less rationally. I couldn’t hear suggestions from my husband or therapist. All I heard was chanting from the demon that sometimes taunts me. But no more. Certainly not today. I see some hope. I felt a belly laugh or 2 in the last few days. Unconscious words of positivity gracing my lips. I walked through the city with open arms, open eyes and an open heart. I allowed the sunshine to penetrate and recharge my insides. Spent a little money. Ate a lot of food. My belly swelled w wholesomeness, not typically found in the hospital. Free from tainted recycled air I took each breath and filled it with love for myself. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.
I made a conscious contact w a higher power. I don’t really know what that means or what it’s supposed to look like. I’m just going with it. No need to analyze. Keeping the anxiety about such things as low as possible. There is no right or wrong. Right? Just kidding. I feel good for a change. Not slogging out of bed full of dread. Is this what “living” life feels like? Not just merely existing. I’ll take another cup of that please!

Slow Suffocation

That moment you sit in group therapy with a bunch of strangers and admit you are hearing voices. You further admit there is a chanting of “join me in hell” “you are not welcome here anymore” that permeates the air you breathe. Nothing seems real, yet its all so overwhelming. The breaking point is near. I need to go to the hospital is lingering on my tongue. The badgering of ideas on ways to end my existence overfills the space between my ears. There are no more tears. Only tunnels. I feel like I’m crawling through a tunnel devoid of sound, touch, light. Is this what true darkness feels like. Perhaps just enough air, but not really. Its not easy, Peaceful breathing. Nor hard labored. My lungs aren’t expanding. New oxygen isn’t being received. Perhaps I am slowly suffocating. Makes sense. my world is so smal. yet my pain so big. And yet again..no big loss or tragedy has befallen me. Its my mere existence that causes the pain. My husband had the audacity to question my motives. Suggest maybe I am manipulating him. Holy fuck. To think I would righteously and purposely put my mental health in harms way to…to..what? Disrupt his life. If only he knew how much I feel relieving him of the stress&burden that is me plagues me everyday. One fatal shot. One tree. One belt. Bottle of pills.
The amount of IM SO SORRY that I carry is phenomenal. He loves me. God knows he does. I know he does. I wish it weren’t so and I need more love at the same time. Miss independent I walk around. I don’t need you or anyone else for that matter. Not true. So not true. I’m desperate for friends for connection. I just can’t seem to find it or maintain it.
As I admit the reality that I need the hospital. As I write these words. Hug someone close today. Tell that friend who struggles they matter. Important words everyone needs to hear.

Home in my Cocoon

I hide away in a cocoon of blankets under the guise of a headache. But its depression that lures me here in the light of day. Depression snuggles next to me at first. Gives me time to get comfortable. Flipping and flopping. I’ve only been awake for 4 hours of the day. I guess I’m tired. I mean I feel exhausted but doubt sleep will afford me any true rest. Isolation is likely what I crave. No forced smiles or laughs.
Yesterday it took everything I had to leave the house to see one of my favorite bands. I have been waiting to see them for months. Over dinner my husband tried to pry out of me what’s wrong. The only answer I have is, I don’t know. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. I mumbled I think I have to take time off work. He asked me if I was going to hurt myself. Again my answer I don’t know. We ate in silence for a while as those words loomed over our table. I excused myself and took several moments in the restroom to let the tears run free.
We made our way to the music. The band said “this is the last night of the tour so we are going to let it all out and leave it all here. After several songs passed me by, I finally let the music take me as if I too was letting it all out. Stomping my feet, shaking my hips, singing the words. I felt like I was there. In the moment. Relishing the sounds and what it was doing to my body. No thoughts. No anxiety. One with crowd. Just another fan full of delight. But, then I burst into tears out of nowhere. A flood of forsaken anguish about what..I don’t know. I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe. I fell backwards into my husband who held me up. He took my hand and led me to a chair. He gave me as much time as I needed. I covered my face. Then my ears. Looked at him w eyes brimming with tears.
I felt betrayed. Heartbroken. I thought I was doing all the right things. Staring bipolar disorder in the face. I guess he got the last laugh because I had to leave. Get fresh air. Get home to my cocoon.